Our blog posts are designed to keep our audience up-to-date on the latest information on the happenings at Mount Vernon and the printing industry overall. Check back often for updates and browse the different categories for new information.
Believe it or not, the US Postal Service is still setting records. On Dec. 18, 2017, more than 37 million packages were delivered (the most packages delivered in a single day) in the postal service’s more than 200-year history. Yet, USPS continues to suffer from falling losses for 11 years straight.
Why? Well, USPS has had to cut costs for years in an effort to pre-fund its retiree health care program – often at the expense of the service it provides. Essentially, these obligations prevent the organization from investing in the infrastructure that so critically needs attention.
Welcome the Postal Service Reform Act of 2018.
This reform act was written by a bipartisan group of senators, and the bill would address many problems that have been hindering the postal service as mail volumes continue to decline. The proposed bill has the following in store for USPS:
- The government will do away with the existing statutory payment schedule, along with any outstanding payments, and will amortize payments over 40 years.
- Restore half of the temporary rate increase while freezing further rate increases until a new rate system can be put in place by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
- Create a new Postal Service Health Benefits Program within the Federal Employee and Retiree Health Benefits Program administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
- Introduce new non-postal product and services, like shipping wine or spirits, as well as creating partnerships with state governments.
- Improve transparency of results, meaning that performance for both retail and delivery would be very visible and easily accessible, for all to see.
This new legislation has received support from some printing and mailing industry organizations, however the House of Representatives rejected the bill. The Postal Regulatory Commission is on a mission to stabilize the USPS this year by raising postage stamps to 64 cents over the next five years. Time will tell how the government will ensure affordable and reliable mail service for all. We’ll provide updates here as things progress.
Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash
The debate over the life of print has been happening since the beginning of the digital age, and yet at Mount Vernon we see companies that still rely heavily on magazines, newspaper, billboard and direct mail ads.
Every year, marketers consider how many resources to put towards print verses all of their digital options, or whether to eliminate it altogether. The experts have their thoughts on the future of print advertising, and so do we.
- Print is a target-specific channel. It will continue to be valuable in places of customer presence like events, in-store marketing, or a waiting room – where people still like to kill a few minutes flipping through colorful, tactile magazines or brochures that give actual weight to a message or an ad.
- Augmented Reality. AR will give advertisements the opportunity to be part of a seamless omnichannel experience. As your audience becomes more desensitized to digital ads, advances with AR and image recognition can be a real differentiator for your brand.
- Successful print already encourages a digital interaction. Using a strategy that incorporates print into digital campaigns has proven to be more effective than digital alone because it engages your audience even further to interact with your brand online. Or, try both and entice consumers with a physical interaction, like this Indiana University Day “Super-Secret Decoder Message” direct mail piece (see pic). What could be better than sending recipients rose-colored glasses encouraging interaction in which putting them on reveals hidden text launching a clever fundraiser campaign?
- Print media will re-engage consumers via influencers and offline methods. Even though print is in the process of an evolution (or revolution, as I like to say), I believe that the outcome will lead to greater levels of engagement. If funding your print strategy is in question, you should consider testing the waters of offline partnerships to see if this can work for your brand. As newspaper and magazine production continues to decrease, direct mail might still be the best way to reach your audience.
No matter what you think about paper, the key is to find the right balance between digital and print for any given campaign using the omnichannel approach. We would love to help you with that!
Political direct mail is the backbone of any campaign, and with the June campaign primary season coming up, we are already gearing up at Mount Vernon to hit the ground running. We are a union shop – if you plan on utilizing direct mail our experts are ready to help your team design the perfect communication to ensure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to American voters.
According to the USPS, political direct mail is any material mailed for campaign purposes by a registered political candidate, campaign committee, or committee of a political party. You can see more information on the guidelines on their website or just ask us!
We specialize in direct mail programs and we can assist with any type of mailing that your campaign requires from soup to nuts – from consulting, design and printing to our on-site mailing department – saving you time and money when there is a tight deadline. Don’t wait too long! With our help and advance planning, you can be assured that your election mailings meet USPS® standards and will arrive on time to the right people with the right message.
We love data at Mount Vernon. That includes big data, which allows your direct mail pieces to be personalized, and we also love the Data & Marketing Association's (DMA) 2017 report concluding that 90% of people ages 25-34 find direct mail reliable, and 87% like receiving it in their mailbox.
It’s critical to make the design as compelling as possible (we can assist with that as well). Ensure your candidate tells a vivid story with a clear call-to-action, urging voters to head to digital channels for more engagement and to track your ROI. The more channels in which your message appears and engages with voters, the more your candidate will make a lasting impression.
It might sound shocking, but the DMA research also states that about 56% of Americans say receiving mail is a real pleasure, unlike the flood of emails that now invade our inboxes. We know many digital experiences are triggered through paper, and this is the perfect time to test that theory with the 2018 election season quickly approaching!
Contact me to get started now.
Photo: Courtesy of Ethan Hoover of Unsplash.com
Personalization is no longer optional these days if you want to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Consumers now expect personal engagement across all devices and channels throughout their buying journey, but more and more, buyers also expect personalization.
This is all possible with data. Thanks to variable data printing (VDP) technology, it is now an easy process to communicate to your audience with slightly different elements on paper. Even better is that with the right technology, this can be accomplished easily and cost-effectively.
Imagine you have a marketing campaign. Your collateral can be fully customized for each individual contact. That’s creating a 1:1 relationship with your target audience. There are so many options for how you can personalize coupons, fundraiser and campaign mailings, or even utilize variable graphics. Instead of sending 10,000 identical brochures to customers, consider using VPD to print customized pieces that appeal to different demographics. It all comes back to data. If you have data, you can use it to make your marketing campaigns more effective.
The Data and Marketing Association reported in early 2017 that the customer response rate for direct mail and catalogs increased year-over-year by 43%, and prospect response rates more than doubled (that’s a 190% increase). With the right strategy, a great return on investment for print is possible.
The software and the print technology we use to accomplish variable data print are cutting-edge, but interestingly, the VDP concept actually dates back to 1969. Maybe it’s time to use something you thought was old to create your new omnichannel marketing approach.
Contact me to learn how I can help you with your next VDP project.
Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is evolving and changing with the times, just like all of us. It’s now offering customers more digital options. One of these options is a free service called Informed Delivery® which lets you preview your mail and manage your packages that are scheduled to arrive in your mailbox. It’s digital + paper combined. In other words, it has the potential to be really awesome.
How does Informed Delivery work?
A grayscale image (scanned with automated equipment) is delivered to your email inbox with a scan of the front of the letters and cards that will be delivered, allowing you to see what is coming that day. What’s more, you can track packages there too.
The USPS launched this as a pilot program in 2014 and they have recently expanded it to include many zip codes nationally. To see if your address is eligible and to set up an account, go here: informeddelivery.usps.com.
According to the USPS, about 6.3 million accounts have already been created (as of last fall) to take advantage of a mail sneak peek. According to USPS, the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
Residents who travel regularly are particularly happy with this service as it allows them to keep close tabs on what mail comes while they are away. Other very satisfied users include those with roommates. Now it doesn’t matter who gets the mail, everyone knows what will be in it.
NOW imagine that you are waiting for a critical piece of mail. For instance, seeing the check you’ve been waiting for is in the mail could impact your schedule that day.
What’s in it for me as a Marketer?
If you happen to be a marketer using direct mail to reach potential customers, this is an extra bonus for you! As more people use this service, more eye balls are guaranteed to see your direct mail piece while they scan their USPS email, converting your paper ad into a digital one.
Think about all of the millennials who are on a device all day. This sneak peek service has the potential to “literally” change how they view mail and the Post Office going forward.
Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev on Unsplash.
Technology is continuing to shape the print industry, and it is important that WE continue to evolve as our clients’ challenges also become our own. 2017 was a year of mixed bag for our industry. There were some print manufacturing consolidations, while others in the business found success by focusing on expanding their IT service offerings.
Whatever the business strategy, one thing that rang true for all companies was stressing the importance of print technology and services that help clients combine online and offline marketing efforts.
So what’s in store for 2018? It’s clear that printers need to develop and expand their capabilities. What has worked in the past for years may not work in the future. Your print business model may need to change if it hasn’t already. At Mount Vernon, we have been preparing for this shift in business model with technology and a wide array of business communication services and data security practices.
Here are a few 2018 Trends that will impact the print industry:
Software Investments - Printers should learn from tech vendors. They differentiate themselves by offering innovations in software and also by their speed to market. In other words, don’t just focus on the hardware in the print shop. Software is poised to be one of the biggest differentiators for the print industry according to trend reports. It will also help printers address new challenges like cybersecurity and data privacy for customers (like being HIPPA compliant). Internally, updating your software can certainly improve your digital workflow (i.e. speed to market).
Big Data – This topic is nothing new for us printers, but the use of big data for predictive analytics is really going to escalate. Expect to see better application of predictive analytics with modeling and artificial intelligence and data mining.
Machine learning - This is a hot topic. Expect to see leaders invest more in machine learning to protect print devices. As more printers become more connected, the cyber threats become more real. We must protect equipment and customer data with updated technology (which ties into trend #1). Unsafe legacy equipment no longer does the job in 2018. With machine learning algorithms, threats can be detected and mitigated in real time. Keep your eyes open for cybersecurity services that will be coming out this year to fight those nasty attacks on your data.
My father owned and ran a print shop and now I have the opportunity to be part of one as well. My passion for this industry runs deep. I’m really excited to see the innovation coming down the pike for our industry as we continue to evolve with technology.
Photo by Markus Spiske courtesy of Unsplash.com
Not many companies can say that they have 150 years of experience in their industry when speaking about just five employees combined, but we can! For my last employee spotlight for the year, I’d like to recognize Eric Lineback who has been with us for 33 years. He works in our bindery department and is the lead on our saddle-stitching and folding equipment.
Eric plays an integral role at Mount Vernon – his focus is on delivering a great product to our customers. With his keen eye, Eric makes certain that a customer’s vision during the design process matches the end result. Believe it or not, that’s much easier said than done. Eric takes pride in ensuring that the artwork and images provided to us appear consistently and precisely across all pages of the project.
As with the other four stellar employees we’ve featured, Eric makes it a priority to adopt new technology and apply it to his work, which contributes to greater accuracy and faster lead times for Mount Vernon customers.
Over the last three decades, Eric has enjoyed the diversity of projects he has been involved with as well as the different types of equipment that he’s been able to use to help exceed customer expectations. His favorite memories involve the people he has met in the plant over the years.
In Eric's free time he enjoys fishing and spending time with his dogs.
Cheers to Eric, Pat, Frank, Paul, and Kelvin. I can’t imagine where Mount Vernon would be without their loyalty, dedication and focus.
On that note, I wish you the happiest of holidays. See you in the new year!
It’s been a great year here at Mount Vernon Printing. I’d like to wish everyone a very merry holiday season and happy new year as we head into 2018.
Before we all start to “check-out” for the season, I’d like to put the spotlight on another dedicated employee: Frank Fuller.
Frank is the lead pressman on our 8-color cold-set Didi web press and a second man on our 6-color press. His greatest satisfaction comes from problem solving. He loves seeing the unique projects that our customers design and ensuring the end result matches their vision.
Frank enjoys the details of getting the project set up, and he uses the latest technology to ensure all the mechanical specs are met, always keeping the quality of his work at the top of his mind.
With more than 28 years at Mount Vernon, Frank has many fond memories. One of his favorite memories is the day he started working here and began learning to use the press. He has also enjoyed learning new technology over the years.
Frank and his wife of 25 years, Lorrie, have raised two children together. They are now blessed with seven grandchildren! When not running the press, you’ll find Frank in his garden.
As a company, we couldn’t be more thankful to have the four dedicated employees that we have spotlighted the past month. Beginning in 2018, look out for a new employee spotlight each month.
Thank you Frank, and my sincerest gratitude to everyone who has contributed to our success!
I can’t stress enough that our success, and our longevity is all due to our customers and our incredible, dedicated and loyal employees. Mount Vernon is lucky to have such good quality people working under our roof.
So, what makes a good employee? It seems that most ideal employees share some common traits: action-oriented, intelligence, ambitious, autonomous, display leadership skills, good cultural fits. The five individuals that I am highlighting this month all possess these traits.
As we get ready to wrap up the rest of 2018, and our 100-year anniversary, I wanted to take the time to honor our next dedicated employee who is truly an expert when it comes to logistics. Meet Kelvin Proctor.
Kelvin is our Shipping Manager, and has been with Mount Vernon Printing for more than 30 years. He loves a challenge, especially when it comes to logistics. Kelvin takes pride in coming up with the most efficient way to help customers meet their deadlines.
He knows that customers can oftentimes spend months designing and planning their projects and he ensures that they are delivered on time and intact without any quality issues, which is what gives him his greatest job satisfaction.
Over three decades, Kelvin has enjoyed interacting and working with everyone at Mount Vernon. He has great memories of his time in the plant.
When he’s not working, Kelvin enjoys fishing and boating, and spending time with his children, Kelvin and Grace.
Thank you, Kelvin for all of your hard work helping customers meet deadlines and your commitment to Mount Vernon Printing!
With 100 years in business to commemorate, many dedicated employees and loyal customers, we’re going to continue celebrating our anniversary through the end of the year. Mount Vernon wouldn’t be what it is today without all of the great people who made it possible.
It’s fascinating to take a look into what life was like 100 years ago. Life is drastically different now then it was back then.
Take the printing press for example.
In the early 1900’s offset lithography was born. American printer Ira Washington Rubel discovered it by accident. He figured out that printing from the rubber impression roller instead of the stone plate of his lithographic press produced a sharper printed page. Before that, litho was used just on tin. Thanks to Ira, it could now be used on paper.
By 1912 offset printing had really taken off with 560 presses in operation in the U.S. About five years later, Mount Vernon Printing opened its doors in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Today, offset lithography is still one of the most common ways of creating printed materials.
This background leads me to introduce another stellar employee. I’d like to introduce Paul Hayward, one of our lead pressmen on our 6-color printing press.
Paul's greatest professional satisfaction comes when he’s running a project and a customer visits Mount Vernon to inspect the printing process. Interacting with the client, and demonstrating how he ensures the highest quality on every project gives Paul great satisfaction and pride. In fact, Paul has been focused on exceeding client expectations for 33 years!
Paul has real passion for his job: To be the best he can be, he’s stayed on top of the technology that has changed the print industry and that knowledge and passion shines through in his output when he creates print material with exceptional quality.
Over the last three decades, Paul’s favorite Mount Vernon memories are the people and the friendships formed with fellow employees.
Paul has been married to his wife Amy for 24 years. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, and watching the Washington Redskins and the Nationals play ball.
We are truly grateful to have such dedicated employees. Keep your eyes open for more profiles to come as head into the holiday season and wrap up 2017.